The Chairman and Commissioner of the National Telecommunications Commission (NATCOM), Momoh Kemoh Konte continues to make strides in ushering development to Sierra Leone. The hosting of a two days Regional Ministerial Conference on Ebola (26th and 27th August 2015) at the Bintumani International Conference Centre, Aberdeen, Freetown will go a very long way as it serves as a forum to not only discuss issues that ends Ebola in the three Mano River Union countries (Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia), rather it also serves as a golden opportunity for the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to usher in development packages in the country’s telecommunication sector.
The conference is co-organized by the Government of Sierra Leone through NATCOM and ITU in consultation with the Governments of Liberia and Guinea.
CHAIRMAN MOMOH KONTE
Addressing local and international participants, the Chief of Project Support and Knowledge Management Department at ITU said he shares the passion to deliver well with the NATCOM Chairman, Momoh Konte. Dr. Cosmas Zavazava said the leadership of President Koroma is exemplary in Africa, which is why his institution has always supported the country since the Ebola outbreak. As one of the oldest United Nations organizations in the world, Mr. Zavazava informed his audience that ITU has committed two years (2016 and 2017) to bring up massive development to Sierra Leone so as to enable the country achieve the sustainable development goals. “We are going concentrate on development the infrastructure and will ensure we take ICT services to schools, colleges, hospitals and other essential areas so that the new generation will grow up with modern communication facilities and opportunities,” he said and added that they believe that preparedness is the best solution to prevent further disease outbreak, which is why they are committed to providing telecoms facilities to save human lives. He called for a concerted effort with a multi-sectoral approach to end Ebola in the three countries.
NATCOM’s Chairman, Momoh Konte said the theme for the conference 2leveraging ICT to save lives2 is appropriate because ITU has been instrumental during the country’s fight against Ebola with the provision of satellite phones that was distributed across the country. “Knowledge is power. Power to offer humanity,” he said, noting further that Sierra Leone is in unique position to ensure that it does everything to succeed. He pledged NATCOM’s further commitment to bring more development to the country.
The Minister of Information and Communication wh chaired the opening session said ICT services were instrumental since the outbreak of Ebola in the country. Alhaji Alpha Bakarr Kanu said ICT contributed in easing the job on contact tracing, surveillance, and other mobilization activities. He stated that government has provided the infrastructure, regulation for the private sector to operate and increase capacity of people using ICT facilities in the country. He made mention of 56% of mobile telecommunication penetration in the country and 44% of those that are unconnected. “We are committed to take rural telephony service to the people. The private sector must tap the possible opportunities provided,” he said.
His Excellency President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, in his keynote address said he is happy to have ITU launchiong a pilot data project in Sierra Leone, and for the commitment it has made to assist the country in infrastructure development, regulatory capacity and disease outbreak prevention. The President revealed that the ground work for economic prosperity is taking place everywhere, and that his government will continue to make progress so as to place the country where it was before the Ebola struck. President Koroma called for a better outcome in the conference that will make a big difference in mankind and the Sub-Region.
Other speakers are: Sierra Leone’s Minister of Health and Sanitation, Dr. Abu Bakarr Fofanah; Guinea’s Minister Health Minister Dr. Colonel Remy Lamah; a representative of the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications in Liberia; and the Mnister of Posts, Telecommunications and New Information Technologies of Guinea, Dr. Oye Guilavogui. A presentation was made by Airtel Sierra Leone Managing Director, Sadipto Chowdhury.